Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Last Post, Please Read

Good morning. This is Zandar's Dad. I am sorry to tell you that he passed away over the weekend, peacefully in his sleep. Fortunately, his computer was on and open to this page but I don't know if I will be able to post again. This blog was Jon's passion. He was an ardent advocate for justice and for our Democracy. He was brilliant. He was funny. He never stopped believing in our country but he never stopped fighting the "stupid" and there was plenty of it for him to fight. He was thrilled with KY reelecting a Democratic governor, and he posted up until Friday, but he was feeling sick over the weekend and when he went to bed Saturday night, he thought that he would feel better when he woke up, but he never did. 

I posted a few replies to his recent posts, hoping to get the word out, before I located this page. As I said, this blog is his pride and joy. In many ways, it is his legacy. He greatly appreciated all of you who read the blog, who posted, and who supported ZandarVTS financially. If you are inclined to make a financial donation in his memory, the chosen organization is the American Heart Association, but the BESTthing you can do to honor Jon's memory is to VOTE like your life and your Democracy depend on it, because they do. 

Zandar's full name was Jonathan David Mott. He was born on 6/8/75 in Omaha, NE. His obituary should appear soon on the the Hickory Daily Record website,

Thanks and please VOTE!  

Friday, November 10, 2023

Retribution Execution, Con't

House GOP Number 3 Clown Elise Stefanik has filed an ethics complaint against  NY Trump civil trial Judge Arthur Engoron for the crime of overseeing that civil fraud case against Donald Trump.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair, has filed a judicial ethics complaint against the judge presiding over the New York civil fraud case against Donald Trump, accusing Judge Arthur Engoron of “weaponized lawfare” against the former president, and calling on the judge to recuse himself.

Engoron has exhibited “clear judicial bias” against Trump, including by telling Trump’s attorney that the former president is “just a bad guy” whom New York Attorney General Letitia James “should go after,” Stefanik, R-N.Y., said in a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. She said the judge has failed to honor Trump’s due process rights, concerns that she said are exacerbated by the former president’s position as the front-runner for the presidential nomination.

Engoron is presiding over a bench trial in the $250 million lawsuit, meaning the judge will also determine guilt and any penalties in the case. The suit, filed by James last year, accuses Trump of inflating asset values for financial gain. Trump testified angrily on Monday in the high-stakes case and has complained and clashed with the judge for weeks.

Engoron issued a partial gag order on Trump last month after he made disparaging remarks about a law clerk on social media and to reporters. He was fined twice for violating the gag order. The judge expanded the gag order last week to include the former president’s lawyers.

“I filed an official judicial complaint against Judge Arthur Engoron for his inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance in New York’s disgraceful lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization,” Stefanik said in a statement to NBC News. “Americans are sick and tired of the blatant corruption by radical Leftist judges in NY. All New Yorkers must speak out against the dangerous weaponized lawfare against President Trump.”

Stefanik said in the letter to accompany the complaint that Engoron had illegally gagged Trump’s protected political speech, violated political giving rules with financial contributions to Democrats as recently as 2018, and ignored a decision on the appropriate statute of limitations in the case. At the start of the trial, Engoron “infamously smiled and posed for the cameras,” she noted.

“If Judge Engoron can railroad a billionaire New York businessman, a former President of the United States, and the leading presidential candidate, just imagine what he could do to all New Yorkers,” Stefanik writes. “Judge Engoron’s lawlessness sends an ominous and illegal warning to New York business owners: If New York judges don’t like your politics, they will destroy your business, the livelihood of your employees, and you personally. This Commission cannot let this continue.”

“All Americans, including political opponents, must receive due process and equal protection under our U.S. and New York Constitutions,” Stefanik wrote. “Judge Engoron’s disdain for President Trump and his politics are evident, and the Commission must take corrective action to restore a just process and protect our constitutional rights. Judge Engoron must recuse from this case.”

You can tell how badly things are going for Trump in this case if he called up Stefanik and had her file this formal complaint to try to force Judge Engoron to recuse himself.  It also becomes a major marker in any expected appeal to a higher court.

Again, Trump's play is get back in office and have all of his legal problems go away. No, he can't pardon a state civil judgment, but he can have SCOTUS toss the case. He has to win in November or he's going to jail, broke and penniless. He just has to outlast the legal process.

We'll see, but this is clearly a long shot. It does however have the advantage of giving Trump fundraising fodder for millions more, which is the real point.

The Manchin Off The Hill

WV Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is hanging it up, leaving his fellow Democrats out to dry and making keeping the Senate considerably harder, because why wouldn't he go out like a huge asshole?

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) announced Thursday he would not seek reelection in 2024, setting back Democrats’ plans to hold onto their Senate majority in 2024 and raising their fears that he could get involved in the presidential race as a third-party candidate.
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“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia,” Manchin said in a video posted to X. “I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for reelection to the United States Senate.”

Manchin, 76, had defied political gravity by holding onto his seat in a deeply red state but would have faced long odds against either Gov. Jim Justice or Rep. Alex Mooney (W.Va.), who are running in the GOP primary next year. The veteran politician had run the coal country state as governor, but West Virginia’s rightward turn in recent years had left him the only Democrat in statewide office.

Faced with what he knew would probably be the race of his life, Manchin was weighing retiring from politics altogether or running for president as a third-party candidate backed by the centrist group No Labels.

Manchin’s announcement video suggests he has not chosen the retirement path just yet, as he said he planned to travel the country to gauge “if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.”

Democrats fear such a bid would hurt Biden’s chances of reelection at a time when polls show him losing swing states to former president Donald Trump, and when several other candidates are also launching third-party runs.

Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon declined to comment on whether he planned to pursue a presidential run, and a No Labels spokeswoman said the group won’t decide until early 2024 about whether to nominate a ticket and who will be on it.

“The Senate will lose a great leader when he leaves, but we commend Senator Manchin for stepping up to lead a long overdue national conversation about solving America’s biggest challenges, including inflation, an insecure border, out-of-control debt and growing threats from abroad,” said No Labels spokeswoman Maryanne Martini.

Oh but it would get far worse if Manchin challenged Biden in 2024, or worse, he went full No Labels as a third party spoiler. I wouldn't put it past him, either.

We'll see.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Last Call For The House GOP Circus Of The Damned, Con't

New Speaker, same old incompetence as America rushes towards a GOP caused shutdown, completely unable to pass their massive spending cuts because gosh, they're unpopular.

House Republicans closed out the week by canceling votes on two party-line funding bills in the span of 48 hours, a setback for new Speaker Mike Johnson and a sign of persisting dysfunction in the chamber ahead of a key funding deadline.

They pulled a transportation-housing bill late Tuesday as some coastal Republicans opposed cuts to Amtrak. And they yanked a financial services and general government measure on Thursday morning that included divisive anti-abortion language.

It's a step backward for Johnson, R-La., who had hoped to show progress on appropriations bills championed by his party's conservative wing in order to secure their votes to pass a short-term bill that would keep the government open beyond the Nov. 17 deadline.

And it shows how ungovernable the House continues to be after right-wing Republicans ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy over complaints about his handling of government funding.

"I don't think the Lord Jesus himself could manage this group," said Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas. He added that he would pray for the new speaker as the House adjourned for a long weekend.

"We’re still dealing with the same divisions we always have had," said another House Republican. "We’re ungovernable."

On Capitol Hill, questions abound about how the new speaker will handle his first big test in a divided government, where he must balance the demands of ultraconservatives with a Democratic-led Senate and president.

"I think there's a honeymoon period here. I'm not sure how long it lasts, maybe 30 days," said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. "But with what's going on on the floor today, I think that indicates the honeymoon might be shorter than we thought."

This week, Johnson held multiple meetings with groups of rank-and-file Republicans about a path forward on a short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR. But lawmakers didn’t get a good read on Johnson's yet-to-be-unveiled strategy: Some thought he might go with a “clean” CR without controversial policy add-ons that would fund the government into January, while others believed the speaker would back a two-step CR proposed by members of the far-right Freedom Caucus.

"He wants a simple plan that will pass the Senate," said moderate Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., who met with Johnson on Wednesday along with roughly 20 other lawmakers. "We should do the hard fights on appropriations and the border, and all that stuff. We shouldn't have the hard fight on the CR — let's keep the government open and make it bipartisan."

Republicans said Johnson will need to make a call on a CR strategy by Friday to abide by the 72-hour rule, which gives lawmakers sufficient time to read the legislation before voting on it early next week. Members departed Washington on Thursday afternoon and will return on Monday.

"We've got to get the Senate something, and you'll see us get the Senate something," said conservative Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., who met with Johnson and is pushing for the two-step process that's been termed a "laddered CR."

But of course there's no reason to believe that the House GOP can pass anything without Democratic votes, and that puts us right back where we were when McCarthy got tossed. 

Mike Johnson might not survive the month as Speaker.

Israeli Getting Serious Out There, Con't

 Some truly good news out of Gaza today: Israel has agreed to daily humanitaria pauses in its attack to allow more Palestinians to escape Northern Gaza.

In a crucial breakthrough for the global effort to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, Israel has agreed to daily, four-hour pauses in fighting across northern Gaza, the White House said Thursday.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Israelis had committed to announcing each four-hour window at least three hours in advance starting Thursday. Israel also was opening a second corridor for civilians to flee the areas being pounded by Israel's military campaign aimed at wiping out Hamas after the brutal Oct. 7 attack on border communities, with a coastal road joining the territory’s main north-south highway, he said.

Pauses in the fighting have been taking place intermittently for days while tens of thousands of civilians flee northern Gaza for the south. The U.S. and several other nations have been urging Israel to provide more time for safe passage and for the safe flow of humanitarian aid into war-battered Gaza.

Kirby also said the pauses could help the effort to win freedom for at least some of the approximately 240 hostages, including several Americans, held by Hamas and other militants since the war began. President Joe Biden told reporters he asked the Israelis for a “pause longer than three days” in talks about freeing the hostages.

So the Biden administration was able to negotiate a daily pause window and a second escape route. I'll take it, frankly. This will save lives.

We'll see how many. 

Strike Up The Band, Con't

 Looks like after almost four months, SAG-AFTRA union negotiators have reached a tentative deal with the studios for a new contract.

After a grueling 118 days on strike, SAG-AFTRA has officially reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with studios, a move that is heralding the end of the 2023 actors strike.

The SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Committee approved the agreement in a unanimous vote on Wednesday, SAG-AFTRA announced. The strike will end at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. On Friday, the deal will go to the union’s national board for approval.

The performers union announced the provisional agreement Wednesday, after about two weeks of renewed negotiations. The development came not long before a deadline of 5 p.m. that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had set for the union to give their answer on whether they had a deal.

The union is so far providing some details of the agreement, more of which will likely emerge in the next few days prior to the union’s ratification vote. In a message to members on Wednesday night, the union said the pact is valued at over $1 billion and includes pay increases higher than what other unions received this year, a “streaming participation bonus” and regulations on AI. The tentative deal also includes higher caps on health and pension funds, compensation bumps for background performers and “critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities.” If the deal is ratified, the contract could soon go into effect, and if not, members would essentially send their labor negotiators back to the bargaining table with the AMPTP.

In a statement on Wednesday night, the AMPTP said, “Today’s tentative agreement represents a new paradigm. It gives SAG-AFTRA the biggest contract-on-contract gains in the history of the union, including the largest increase in minimum wages in the last forty years; a brand new residual for streaming programs; extensive consent and compensation protections in the use of artificial intelligence; and sizable contract increases on items across the board. The AMPTP is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement and looks forward to the industry resuming the work of telling great stories.”

When negotiations restarted on Oct. 2 for the first time since SAG-AFTRA called its work stoppage in July, hopes were high in the industry that Hollywood’s largest union could come to terms with major companies quickly. Just like they had in the final days of the writers’ negotiations, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and NBCUniversal Studio Group chairman and chief content officer Donna Langley attended the talks at the union’s national headquarters in Los Angeles. But the studio ended up walking out on Oct. 11 over SAG-AFTRA’s proposal to charge a fee per every streaming subscriber on major platforms in a move that the union’s chief negotiator called “mystifying” (Sarandos called the ask “a bridge too far“).

The sides reconvened Oct. 24 after a nearly two-week break. This time, the studios came in with a more generous offer to increase actors’ wage floors and a slightly modified version of a success-based streaming bonus they had previously offered the WGA. The two sides exchanged proposals for much of the week in a tense situation that had the industry on edge. Even as a deal came into sight, progress was slow, especially when it came to putting the contract’s inaugural guardrails on artificial intelligence: The union considers the rapidly advancing technology an absolutely existential issue for members and sought to close any potential loopholes that could lead to future issues. On Saturday the studios presented what the union characterized as the companies’ “last, best and final,” overarching offer (still, the two sides kept swapping offers after).

When the union’s previous contract expired in mid-July and SAG-AFTRA went out on strike, many outstanding issues were left on the table. Setting terms for the use of AI was a major sticking point between union and studio negotiators, as was a proposal to provide casts with additional streaming compensation. Union negotiators sought to institute an unusually large minimum rate increase in the first year of the contract, a host of ground rules for self-taped virtual auditions and major increases to health and pension contributions “caps” that have not been changed since the 1980s. Meanwhile, as the entertainment business continues to experience a period of contraction, major companies looked to preserve some measure of flexibility and cost control.

Looks like another major union scored another big win in the Biden era.  Hopefully we'll get back to production on your favorite shows and movies, and it'll be far more equitable for the people making them.


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Last Call For Hunting The Hunter, Con't

Professional idiot James Comer is going all in on the Hunter Biden probe, demanding subpoenas from Hunter Biden and multiple Biden family members because Comer will never, never let this go even with the complete lack of actual criminal activity.

Hunter Biden and his uncle James Biden have been subpoenaed Wednesday by the House Oversight Committee, which took the remarkable step of seeking depositions from family members of President Biden amid its impeachment inquiry.

As part of the request, the committee asked for James Biden’s wife, Sarah Biden, as well as Hunter Biden’s wife, Melissa Cohen, to sit for transcribed interviews. The panel also asks for interviews with Hallie Biden, the widow of Beau Biden, and her sister Elizabeth Secundy.

The subpoenas come weeks after the Oversight Committee demanded both Hunter and James Biden’s personal bank records, and also include a subpoena for Hunter Biden’s former business partner Rob Walker.

The panel is also requesting to speak with Tony Bobulinski, whom Hunter Biden’s attorney have accused of lying to the FBI.

The release from House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said he “plans to send additional subpoenas and transcribed interview requests later this week.”

The government shuts down in nine days, but we're harassing the President's son as a priority. But hey, it's the Clown Show, and Comer is definitely a giant clown.  More subpoenas are coming, he promises. Boy they sure care about working class Americans, don't they.


The Squad Steps In It Again, Con't

Most of the time it's not fair to compare the members of The Squad, House Democrats on the far left, to the bombthrowers, insurrectionists. and terrorists on the GOP far right like Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Bobert or Chip Roy. I say "most of the time" because House Democrat Rashida Tlaib absolutely crossed a big red line on Palestine and Israel and got deservedly rung up by her House colleagues.

The House passed a GOP-led resolution on Tuesday to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib over comments critical of Israel and in support of Palestinians amid Israel’s war against Hamas.

The move amounts to a rare and significant rebuke of the Michigan Democrat, who is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress. The vote was 234 to 188 with four Republicans voting against and 22 Democrats voting in support of the censure resolution.

The resolution, which was introduced by Georgia GOP Rep. Rich McCormick, advanced earlier in the day after a Democratic-led effort to block the measure failed.

Tlaib has defended herself against the censure attempts, arguing that they are an effort to silence her and saying that her “colleagues have resorted to distorting my positions in resolutions filled with obvious lies.”

Following the vote to advance the censure resolution, Tlaib delivered an emotional speech on the House floor and argued that her criticism of the Israeli government should not be conflated with antisemitism.

“It is important to separate people and governments. No government is beyond criticism. The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent, and it’s been used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation,” she said.

She grew emotional and had trouble speaking after she said, “I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable.”

“We are human beings just like anyone else,” she said after a long pause, during which Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota stood up to comfort her and put her hands on Tlaib’s shoulder as the congresswoman braced herself against the podium.

After the House voted to block a resolution from GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to censure Tlaib last week, Greene put forward a new version of the resolution that drops a reference to a pro-Palestinian protest at the Capitol as an “insurrection,” which had made some Republicans uncomfortable. But McCormick’s resolution had been expected to have more support from Republicans because the language is narrower and more tailored to recent events.

A censure resolution is one of the most severe forms of punishment in the House, which has historically been saved for the most egregious offenses such as a criminal conviction. A censure does not remove a member from the House and carries no explicit penalties beyond a public admonition.

Most recently, the House voted to censure Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California in June, a key lawmaker in the Democrats’ congressional investigations into former President Donald Trump.

In addition to the Republican criticism directed at Tlaib, a number of Democrats have been critical of the congresswoman over her defense of the pro-Palestinian chant “from the river to the sea.”

The Anti-Defamation League describes the chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as “an antisemitic slogan” and “rallying cry (that) has long been used by anti-Israel voices, including supporters of terrorist organizations such as Hamas.”

Tlaib has defended the phrase, writing on X, “From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said, “Of course I do,” when asked by CNN on Monday if he has concerns over Tlaib’s use of the chant.

Both censure resolutions reference the chant. McCormick’s resolution states that it is “widely recognized as a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel.”

Republicans censuring Adam Schiff earlier this year was a prime example of their hateful nonsense. But I'm siding with the ADL on this one. They know exactly what documenting antisemitism looks like, and Tlaib trying to pass this off as an "aspirational chant" is quite frankly, bullshit of the highest degree. The Squad keeps catching primary challengers, and deservedly so.  

Yes, Israel has killed over 10,000 Gazans in their ground invastion. They are terribly wrong for doing this.

But you don't get to act like a Hamas terrorist in Congress and use a wildly documented call for the extermination of the Jewish State, folks. Full stop.

Buckeye Breakthrough

Both state constitutional amendments on the ballot in Ohio last night passed overwhelmingly as voters in the Buckeye state approved the right to abortion, and legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Ohio voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to enshrine protections for reproductive health services, including abortion, in the state constitution — the latest in a post-Roe streak of ballot box wins for the abortion rights movement.

The Associated Press called the race less than two hours after polls closed, and early counts showed the abortion rights initiative leading by double digits.

The results follow a long, bitter and expensive campaign that shows the continuing resonance of the issue more than a year after Roe v. Wade was overturned and the strength of ballot measures as a tool for advancing abortion rights in GOP-dominated states.

The resounding victory comes despite a myriad of advantages for the anti-abortion camp heading into Election Day.

Gov. Mike DeWine cut ads for the “No” campaign calling the ballot measure “extreme,” and suggested he would push the legislature to add rape and incest exemptions to the state’s six-week ban if the referendum were defeated.

The official website for the GOP-controlled state legislature published posts claiming the amendment would “legalize abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy” and allow for “the dismemberment of fully conscious children” — echoing the disputed talking points of the campaign against the amendment.

Secretary of State and Senate hopeful Frank LaRose also crafted a ballot summary that abortion rights supporters decried as biased and misleading — including changing the word “fetus” to “unborn child” and removing references to protections for non-abortion services like contraception and fertility treatments.

LaRose also spearheaded August’s failed special election that would have made it more difficult to amend the state constitution and his office purged tens of thousands of inactive voters from the rolls after early voting for the November election was already underway and the deadline to reregister had passed.

Anti-abortion groups campaigning against the amendment focused on many of the same arguments that failed in six other states’ abortion ballot fights last year — including claims, disputed by their opponents, that the measure’s passage would strip away parental consent laws and all limits on abortions later in pregnancy.

But Ohio conservatives also shaped their strategy in response to those 2022 losses. They invested, for example, in targeted outreach to Black voters, students, and people who identify as “pro-choice” and encouraged early and absentee voting.

They were outraised, however, by abortion rights groups, which raked in triple the donations and purchased significantly more TV time. Most of the money on both sides came from out of state, with a group affiliated with Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America providing more than half of the funding for the anti-abortion campaign and several national groups pouring millions into the abortion rights campaign’s coffers, including the ACLU, the Sixteen Thirty Fund and Open Society Policy Center.

Ahh, but with Republicans controlling all three branches of government in Ohio, the fight is far, far from over.  Expect massive amounts of hoops for women to jump though, if not the existing six week ban to be ruled constitutional somehow.

These are, after all, Ohio Republicans, the most crooked state party in America.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Last Call For Beshear Audacity Of It All, Con't

Democratic KY Gov. Andy Beshear comfortably won reelection over Republican AG Daniel Cameron tonight.

Gov. Andy Beshear has won the Kentucky governor’s race, beating his Trump-endorsed challenger, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, to secure a second term. 

Major news outlets, including CNN, declared Beshear the winner just before 9 p.m. 

The 45-year-old Beshear, the son of former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, is the first Democratic governor to win reelection in the commonwealth since 2011, when his father accomplished the same feat.
In one of the nation’s most expensive political campaigns, where nearly $74 million was raised and spent, Beshear maintained a high level of popularity in his first term as governor despite being a Democrat in Kentucky’s increasingly Republican-leaning political climate. 

In his re-election pitch to voters, Beshear touted his moderate views, an “economy on fire,” support for public education and leadership during times of crisis, including the COVID-19 global pandemic, devastating tornadoes and horrific floods that ravaged parts of Eastern Kentucky. 

In its final weeks, the campaign turned ugly. Cameron, 37, criticized Kentucky’s development trends under Beshear’s watch, saying that the Democrat was exaggerating the vitality of the state’s economy. He also repeatedly linked Beshear to President Joe Biden, who is deeply unpopular in the commonwealth.

Kentucky overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race, beating Biden by nearly a 26-point margin. Beshear blunted Cameron’s strategy and painted himself as being above the partisan fray. He touted his bipartisan manner and his commitment to “Team Kentucky” instead of specific political parties. 

‘“My opponent is trying to nationalize the race because he knows if it’s me against him, he will not win,” Beshear said a little more than a week before Election Day. “So, he’s trying to confuse people, to make them think this is the race for president. It’s not. This is about us. It’s about Kentucky.”

In a final blast on social media Monday night, Beshear told supporters: “It’s time to send a message to the entire country that anger politics won’t win elections.”

Cameron's pitch didn't work. Too many people like Andy Beshear and they came out to vote for him.

The answer to the question of how Democrats can win in red states and win rural voters in 2024 is "Do what Andy Beshear did in 2023."

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Former Trump legal adviser, Big Lie architect and Georgia indicted RICO co-conspirator John Eastman is much closer to losing his bar license in California after a judge determined that he violated ethics standards in Trump's January 6th coup attempt.
A California judge made a “preliminary finding” Thursday that attorney John Eastman breached professional ethics when he aided Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 election, a significant milestone in the lengthy proceedings over whether Eastman should lose his license to practice law.

Eastman said Thursday that the extensive disbarment proceedings — which delved deeply into his allegations of election fraud and irregularities, as well as his fringe theories about the vice president’s power to unilaterally choose the winner of the presidential election — had strengthened his belief that the 2020 election was tainted. Now, state bar officials are preparing to present “aggravation” evidence aimed at justifying their call to strip Eastman, a veteran conservative attorney who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, of his law license.

The proceedings, which began in June, featured 30 days of testimony from witnesses that included former Vice President Mike Pence’s legal counsel Greg Jacob, former Bush administration attorney John Yoo, officials from numerous state election offices, statisticians and data analysts that Eastman relied on for some of his claims of widespread election irregularities, and constitutional law experts who delved into the history of the counting of electoral votes.

Eastman took the stand for more than a dozen hours throughout the trial and described his interactions with Trump in a Jan. 4, 2021, Oval Office meeting; his work with other members of Trump’s legal team like Boris Epshteyn and Kenneth Chesebro; and the drafting of his infamous memos describing options for Pence to assert control of the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

Eastman’s fight for his bar license comes as he is also fending off criminal charges in Georgia, where he was charged alongside Trump and 17 others with a sweeping racketeering conspiracy aimed at subverting the state’s election laws in 2020.

Eastman said he never considered the impact of his words on Jan. 6, 2021, when he addressed the crowd of Trump supporters gathered near the White House ahead of their march to the Capitol. He said the crowd was already convinced the election was stolen and was there to see Trump, not him, and did not view his remarks as somehow “solidifying” their anger.

“I didn’t have any thought about that one way or the other,” he said on the witness stand. “My point in speaking on Jan. 6 was to raise concerns about illegality in the conduct of the election that may well have led to the certification of somebody who did not win the election.”

Investigators for the California bar spent much of the trial delving deeply into Eastman’s claims of fraud that he used in a failed attempt to convince state legislatures to send “contingent” presidential electors to Congress on Jan. 6. They argued that Eastman relied on obviously flawed methods and assumptions meant to secure a predetermined outcome: that Trump should remain in power.

Throughout his testimony, Eastman emphasized that he never showed Trump his two-page and six-page memos outlining options for Pence, which he said were merely meant as “internal” documents outlining “scenarios” to be considered by Trump’s lawyers. He said he recalled only sharing the memos with Epshteyn and Chesebro before meeting with Trump on Jan. 4, 2021.
Eastman should be doing some time in a Georgia correctional facility soon, but being disbarred in California is just the icing on this grungy cake as far as I'm concerned. The people who helped Trump try to steal the Oval Office should be doing significant time, and they should be punished severely for what they tried to do.

We'll see if they are.

Vote Like Your Country Depends On It, Con't

Republicans are hoping to sink Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's reelection bid on Tuesday by tying him to the widely unpopular President Joe Biden.

But in this ruby red state that Biden lost by more than 25 points three years ago, Beshear appears to be offering Democrats hope of local success amid party-wide handwringing: voters supporting both Beshear and his Republican challenger, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, told ABC News that the governor's brand was strong enough to blunt any ties to the White House.

"Andy Beshear is a more liberal Democrat than the average Kentucky Democrat. Kentucky Democrats are pretty conservative. Now, is he the clone of Joe Biden? No," said Steve Megerle, an attorney and lifelong Republican in Fort Thomas, who said he is debating between voting for Beshear and leaving the governor's line blank on Tuesday.

"I probably don't see Beshear as bad as Biden," Carol Taylor told ABC News at a Cameron campaign event in Richmond. "I don't think I can say anything good about [Biden]."

To be sure, Beshear's reelection is no sure thing. A former state attorney general and son of a former governor, he narrowly won his first term in 2019 against an unpopular incumbent Republican and, given how the state usually votes, he'll have to win over a large swath of conservatives to stay in office, with recent polling previewing a neck-and-neck race.

But interviews with more than 20 operatives and voters of both parties revealed a lack of the kind of vitriol about Beshear that is usually evident when a governor is about to be unseated.

The trend could prove notable for other down-ballot Democrats in 2024 as they try to persuade voters to view them separately from Biden while sharing a ticket with him.

The governor's race could also show some signs of how Democrats will fare next year both in House seats the party holds where Donald Trump also won and in Senate races in Montana, Ohio and West Virginia, which like Kentucky often vote for Republicans.

Columbus area residents Beth and Kyle Long held hands as they walked into the Franklin County early voting center to cast their ballots for Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine abortion and other reproductive rights into the state's constitution.

Beth, now 18 weeks pregnant after in vitro fertilization, is at the same point in her pregnancy as she was in January when she got an abortion after learning the fetus she was carrying had a fatal condition.

"The doctors came back and told us, 'all of her organs, except her heart, are growing on the outside of her, enmeshed in the placenta," she told NPR. "'[They said] there is nothing we can do to go through and separate that. No fetus has ever survived this condition, and yours will not be the first.'"

The Longs were featured in an ad for Issue 1, one of many that have dominated the air waves in a contest that many view as a critical precursor to the 2024 elections.

"I think it's important for us to know that no one else here in Ohio has to go through what we went through," Kyle Long said before voting.

If voters approve the measure, which is similar to one passed in Michigan last year, Ohio would become the seventh state to pass abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.
Ohio Republicans have done everything they can to confuse, befuddle, obfuscate and cheat on Issue 1. Vote Yes, Ohio!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Last Call For Throwing The Book At Them, Con't

Two members of Moms for Liberty, a right-wing activist group, have reported several Florida school librarians to law enforcement. They claimed they had evidence that librarians were distributing "pornography" to minors and requested that law enforcement officers be dispatched. This represents a serious escalation of the tactics deployed by members of Moms for Liberty against school librarians.

On October 25, Jennifer Tapley, a member of the Santa Rosa County chapter of Moms for Liberty and a candidate for school board, contacted the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office. "I've got some evidence a crime was committed," Tapley said in an audio recording of the call obtained by Popular Information through a public records request. "Pornography given to a minor in a school. And I would like to make a report with somebody and turn over the evidence." Tapley made the call from the lobby of the main office of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office in Milton, Florida.

She told the dispatcher that she did not want to provide her name because she was "afraid of people getting mad at me for doing this." Tapley said that she would tell the Deputy Sheriff her name, but she didn't want "any public records with her name on it because then people could look it up."

In an interview with Popular Information, Tapley said she was "scrolling through Facebook" this summer and saw "a video of a mom reading a book" that was "really disgusting." She later learned that there was a Moms for Liberty chapter in her area addressing the issue and joined the group. As a member of the group, she learned that local schools had "some really shocking pornographic books in our libraries."

Tapley was accompanied at the Sheriff's Office by Tom Gurski, who is also active in the local Moms for Liberty chapter. Soon, Deputy Sheriff Tyler Mabire and another officer arrived and interviewed the pair.

"The only reason we are here: A crime is being committed. It's a 3rd-degree felony. And we've got the evidence," Gurski said in a body cam video of the interview obtained by Popular Information. "The governor says this is child pornography. It's a serious crime," Tapley added. "It's just as serious as if I handed a playboy to [my child] right now, right here, in front of you. It's just as serious, according to the law." The video has been edited to protect the identity of a minor.

The "pornography" at issue is actually a popular young adult novel, Storm and Fury, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The book, which is 512 pages, is mostly about humans and gargoyles fighting demons. The main character of the novel, Trinity, is 18 years old. There are some passages with sexual themes, including a few makeout sessions, and one where the main character almost has sex. In the 2020-21 academic year, the Florida Association of Media in Education (FAME), a professional association of Florida librarians, recommended Storm and Fury on its "Teen Reads" list. FAME says books on the list "engage" teens and "provide a spur to critical thinking." Barnes and Noble recommends the book for readers 14 to 18. It was also recommended for students by the School Library Journal.
If this counts as porn, everything does.
Which is the point. These fascist freaks want public school libraries, librarians, and in fact, puiblic schools gone. They want librarians, teachers, educators, administrators and everyone involved in running a school in prison and the schools destroyed.
Keep in mind that's the end game, and all this makes a sick amount of sense, doesn't it?

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Donald Trump's testimony in front of NY civil judge Arthur Engoron today went about as badly as most Trump-watchers (including myself) expected it to go.

As Donald Trump prepared to take the stand in the civil fraud trial that could destroy his business empire, the ex-president and his attorneys settled on a strategy built on spite and unbridled antagonism. According to two sources familiar with the matter and another person briefed on Team Trump’s legal strategies, Trump and his lawyers want to intentionally provoke the judge into a nuclear-level overreaction.

They certainly seem to be carrying out the plan on Monday. Trump dodged questions and ranted about this “haters” while on the witness stand, leading Judge Arthur Engoron to scold him repeatedly and push the former president’s attorneys to rein in their client. “I beseech you to control him if you can,” Engoron implored. “If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”

An explosive response from Engoron could include ordering Trump to be remanded to a jail cell for the night. The judge in the case had already imposed a gag order on Trump, warning him to refrain from attacks on the judge’s staff. Late last week, the order was expanded to also include Trump’s attorneys. Trump has still shown a brazen willingness to violate it repeatedly. And as bizarre as it may sound, there are attorneys and political advisers to Trump who have told the former president that a so-called “remand order” to put him in custody for repeatedly breaching the judge’s rulings might be a good thing — both legally and politically.

The ex-president’s legal advisers had long ago told Trump that his chances of winning at trial are close to zero — hence, their scorched-earth, “Fyre Festival”-style courtroom performances. According to the three sources, several Trump attorneys and other key allies have advised him that the more the New York judge supposedly “overreacts” — including perhaps remanding Trump — the better their case for an appeal will be.

“I call it the Chicago 7 disruption strategy,” Alan Dershowitz, the celebrity lawyer who defended then-President Trump during his first impeachment, tells Rolling Stone.

“When a defendant honestly believes he can’t possibly get a fair trial from the judge, one of the tactics is to antagonize the judge to a point of causing reversible errors,” Dershowitz says. “That is what happened in the Chicago 7 case, and I was one of the lawyers on the appeal in that case. Abbie Hoffman provoked Judge Hoffman to such a degree that the judge made mistake after mistake. And courts of appeal often reverse convictions or verdicts when the judge has made serious errors.”

In recent weeks, the former president and some of his lawyers in the New York civil fraud trial have discussed the likelihood of Engoron very aggressively responding to Trump team’s strategy of relentless hostility and defiance. The tactics have included attacks on Engoron’s court clerk, filibustering the prosecution’s witnesses with repetitive questions, and raising legal arguments the judge had already specifically prohibited.

This has included Trump asking his legal advisers if the judge would, or could, actually go so far as to send him to jail for a short time, the sources tell Rolling Stone. Trump has been told such an order is probably unlikely — though Engoron has publicly put the option on the table. This is one reason why Trump and his counselors have kept up with their brazen strategy of infuriating a judge who has openly threatened the former president with possible jail time.

The legal team has further assured Trump that even if he were remanded, they would likely be able to deploy a variety of legal tactics to keep him from spending any time behind bars. According to two other sources with knowledge of the situation, some Trump advisers have already reached out to certain outside attorneys to see if those lawyers would be interested in joining that potential fight to keep Trump out of jail. (Some of those lawyers have preemptively turned Team Trump down.)

In addition, there have been recent conversations among some of Trump’s 2024 campaign brass of how much of an immediate fundraising boost they would enjoy, if a New York judge were to try to put Trump in a cell for even a minute. “All the cash in the world,” one Trump political adviser says.

Our legal system is not built to handle Trump. As I told you months ago, the Trump plan is to goad Engoron and the other judges in his various cases into an either ruinous sanction that will be used for grounds to appeal, or to make the case impossible to prosecute, or both.

Right now Trump is running his playbook perfectly. Judge Engoron clearly knows this. So how much will he continue to let Trump get away with? 

The answer appears to be as much as Trump can and everyone in America knows it.

The Big Lie, Con't

Republicans continue the Big Lie because Donald Trump demands it, and the media continues to allow them to get away with it.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) refused to answer whether the 2020 election was stolen when pressed eight separate times in a Sunday interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos.

Asked about conservative Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-Colo.) decision to leave Congress and his departing remark that “too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen,” Scalise avoided responding directly in the interview on ABC News’s “This Week.”

“Well, Ken, I’ve worked with on a number of issues, including getting spending under control, getting our economy back on track. He’s talked about that 2020 election as well. You and I have, I think, have talked about that too,” Scalise said. “At the end of the day, getting our country back on track is our focus. And that’s what we’re focused on right now.”

“Can you say unequivocally the 2020 election was not stolen?” Stephanopoulos asked Scalise, after the congressman detailed several other legislative priorities for the party.

Scalise dodged the question.

“What I’ve told you, there are states that didn’t follow their laws. That is what the state constitution — the U.S. Constitution requires,” he said. “Every state ought to follow the laws that are on their books. That’s what the U.S. Constitution says.”

“That’s not what I asked,” Stephanopoulos retorted. “I said, can you say unequivocally that the 2020 election was not stolen?”

“Look, Joe Biden’s president. I know you and others want to talk about 2020. We’re focused on the future. We’ve talked about 2020 a lot. We’re talking about how to get our country back on track, how to get our economy moving, how to stand up to the bad actors around the world,” Scalise said.

“Congressman, I know that Joe Biden is president. I’m asking you a different question. Can you say unequivocally that the 2020 election was not stolen?” Stephanopoulos said, continuing to press him.

Scalise dodged again, citing certain states that he claimed “didn’t follow the laws that are on their books, which is what the U.S. Constitution says they have to do.”

Scalise’s argument is a reiteration of a frequent concern predominantly among voters of former President Trump. They argued that the changes made during the pandemic to allow for mail-in ballots and other measures encouraging voter participation somehow violated state law — even though the changes were largely passed through state legislatures or other legal procedures.

“So you, so you just refuse to say unequivocally that the 2020 election was not stolen?” Stephanopoulos said again.

“You want to keep rehashing 2020. We’re talking about the future,” Scalise said, as the two spoke over each other.

“I just want an answer to the question, yes or no?”

“We’ve asked — look, we’ve talked about this before. But, again, will you acknowledge that there were states that didn’t follow the actual state legislative enacted laws on their book, which the U.S. Constitution says they’re supposed to do?” Scalise said, again refusing to answer.

“I know that every court that looked at whether the election was stolen said it wasn’t, rejected those claims. And I asked you a very, very simple question. Now I’ve asked it, I think, the fifth time that you can’t appear to answer. Can you say unequivocally that the 2020 election was not stolen?”

The exchange continued without coming to any ultimate resolution.
Scalise ran rings around Stephanopoulos again and again and refused to answer the question, and the veteran interviewer simply gave up because he was tired of trying to nail jello to the wall. Scalise knew 100% what he was doing and walked away with total victory.

Republican after Republican is allowed to get away with this, and that remains the problem. Our media is not equipped to stop the Big Lie in any way.The worse lies coming from the GOP in the next year plus will be far worse, and our media is going to get rolled even harder as a result.

There are a few Republicans who will admit that Biden was legitimately elected, and that's only because they are term-limited in purple states like Virginia.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on Sunday acknowledged President Biden was the “legitimately elected president” as Republicans continue to be peppered with questions about whether the 2020 election was legitimate.

Pressed by ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos on whether the 2020 election was stolen, Youngkin said, “Well, I’ve consistently said that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president. He’s sleeping in the White House. I wish he weren’t.”
Youngkin doesn't have to face GOP primary voters again, so he doesn't have to lie. If he did,he'll change his tune.

And nobody will ask him why.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

The Trump 2024 people are screaming from the rooftops that they will make mass arrests of Democrats and their voters in 2025 and at this point I have to assume that a whole lot of your friends and neighbors are going to spend the next year trying to get on Team Fascism so that they don't end up on the pogrom lists.
Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations.

In private, Trump has told advisers and friends in recent months that he wants the Justice Department to investigate onetime officials and allies who have become critical of his time in office, including his former chief of staff, John Kelly, and former attorney general William P. Barr, as well as his ex-attorney Ty Cobb and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, according to people who have talked to him, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Trump has also talked of prosecuting officials at the FBI and Justice Department, a person familiar with the matter said.

In public, Trump has vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” President Biden and his family. The former president has frequently made corruption accusations against them that are not supported by available evidence.

To facilitate Trump’s ability to direct Justice Department actions, his associates have been drafting plans to dispense with 50 years of policy and practice intended to shield criminal prosecutions from political considerations. Critics have called such ideas dangerous and unconstitutional.

“It would resemble a banana republic if people came into office and started going after their opponents willy-nilly,” said Saikrishna Prakash, a constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia who studies executive power. “It’s hardly something we should aspire to.”

Much of the planning for a second term has been unofficially outsourced to a partnership of right-wing think tanks in Washington. Dubbed “Project 2025,” the group is developing a plan, to include draft executive orders, that would deploy the military domestically under the Insurrection Act, according to a person involved in those conversations and internal communications reviewed by The Washington Post. The law, last updated in 1871, authorizes the president to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement.

The proposal was identified in internal discussions as an immediate priority, the communications showed. In the final year of his presidency, some of Trump’s supporters urged him to invoke the Insurrection Act to put down unrest after the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, but he never did it. Trump has publicly expressed regret about not deploying more federal force and said he would not hesitate to do so in the future.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung did not answer questions about specific actions under discussion. “President Trump is focused on crushing his opponents in the primary election and then going on to beat Crooked Joe Biden,” Cheung said. “President Trump has always stood for law and order, and protecting the Constitution.”

The discussions underway reflect Trump’s determination to harness the power of the presidency to exact revenge on those who have challenged or criticized him if he returns to the White House. The former president has frequently threatened to take punitive steps against his perceived enemies, arguing that doing so would be justified by the current prosecutions against him. Trump has claimed without evidence that the criminal charges he is facing — a total of 91 across four state and federal indictments — were made up to damage him politically.

“This is third-world-country stuff, ‘arrest your opponent,’” Trump said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire in October. “And that means I can do that, too.”
Special counsel Jack Smith, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Biden have all said that Smith’s prosecution decisions were made independently of the White House, in accordance with department rules on special counsels.

Trump, the clear polling leader in the GOP race, has made “retribution” a central theme of his campaign, seeking to intertwine his own legal defense with a call for payback against perceived slights and offenses to right-wing Americans. He repeatedly tells his supporters that he is being persecuted on their behalf and holds out a 2024 victory as a shared redemption at their enemies’ expense.


Again, Trump is promising that he'll arrest Democrats and their supporters, maybe tens of thousands or more, and that he'll deploy the US military against Americans, and your friends and neighbors and co-workers are not only okay with this, they're actively rooting for it to happen.

President Biden is trailing Donald J. Trump in five of the six most important battleground states one year before the 2024 election, suffering from enormous doubts about his age and deep dissatisfaction over his handling of the economy and a host of other issues, new polls by The New York Times and Siena College have found.

The results show Mr. Biden losing to Mr. Trump, his likeliest Republican rival, by margins of three to 10 percentage points among registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden is ahead only in Wisconsin, by two percentage points, the poll found.

Across the six battlegrounds — all of which Mr. Biden carried in 2020 — the president trails by an average of 48 to 44 percent.

Discontent pulsates throughout the Times/Siena poll, with a majority of voters saying Mr. Biden’s policies have personally hurt them. The survey also reveals the extent to which the multiracial and multigenerational coalition that elected Mr. Biden is fraying. Demographic groups that backed Mr. Biden by landslide margins in 2020 are now far more closely contested, as two-thirds of the electorate sees the country moving in the wrong direction.

Voters under 30 favor Mr. Biden by only a single percentage point, his lead among Hispanic voters is down to single digits and his advantage in urban areas is half of Mr. Trump’s edge in rural regions. And while women still favored Mr. Biden, men preferred Mr. Trump by twice as large a margin, reversing the gender advantage that had fueled so many Democratic gains in recent years.

Black voters — long a bulwark for Democrats and for Mr. Biden — are now registering 22 percent support in these states for Mr. Trump, a level unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times.

Add it all together, and Mr. Trump leads by 10 points in Nevada, six in Georgia, five in Arizona, five in Michigan and four in Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden held a 2-point edge in Wisconsin.

In a remarkable sign of a gradual racial realignment between the two parties, the more diverse the swing state, the farther Mr. Biden was behind, and he led only in the whitest of the six.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are both deeply — and similarly — unpopular, according to the poll. But voters who overwhelmingly said the nation was on the wrong track are taking out their frustrations on the president
We're about to hand this country back to an autocratic crook who will take endless revenge on anyone and everyone in sight in a massive purge of anyone even remotely critical of him backed by lethal military force, but it's okay because Joe Biden is old LOL.
Excusing the voters as ignorant doesn't work anymore. Trump is absolutely saying on a nearly weekly basis at rallies that he's going to hurt people. And the majority of the American people want it to happen
Biden needs to get his ass in gear and run like he's 10 points down.
Because right now?
He is.

Voters, by a 59 percent to 37 percent margin, said they better trusted Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden on the economy, the largest gap of any issue. The preference for Mr. Trump on economic matters spanned the electorate, among both men and women, those with college degrees and those without them, every age range and every income level.

That result is especially problematic for Mr. Biden because nearly twice as many voters said economic issues would determine their 2024 vote compared with social issues, such as abortion or guns. And those economic voters favored Mr. Trump by a landslide 60 percent to 32 percent.

The findings come after Mr. Biden’s campaign has run millions of dollars in ads promoting his record, and as the president continues to tour the country to brag about the state of the economy. “Folks, Bidenomics is just another way of saying the American dream!” Mr. Biden declared on Wednesday on a trip to Minnesota.

Voters clearly disagree. Only 2 percent of voters said the economy was excellent.

"At least Trump made the trains run on time"is gonna be the epitaph of this country at this rate. And the kids? The kids want to go back to Trump.

Voters under 30 — a group that strongly voted for Mr. Biden in 2020 — said they trusted Mr. Trump more on the economy by an extraordinary 28 percentage-point margin after years of inflation and now high interest rates that have made mortgages far less affordable. Less than one percent of poll respondents under 30 rated the current economy as excellent, including zero poll respondents in that age group in three states: Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin.

“I actually had high hopes for Biden,” said Jahmerry Henry, a 25-year-old who packages liquor in Albany, Ga. “You can’t be worse than Trump. But then as the years go by, things happen with inflation, the war going on in Ukraine, recently Israel and I guess our borders are not secure at all.”

Now Mr. Henry plans to back Mr. Trump.

“I don’t see anything that he has done to benefit us,” said Patricia Flores, 39, of Reno, Nev., who voted for Mr. Biden in 2020 but won’t support him again in 2024.
"You can't be worse than Trump", but they're going to vote for him anyhow. We really are going to hand this place back over to Trump for a second go and he'll finish the country off. The psychopathy and despair are real. The Zoomers who will never be able to afford a house are willing to roll the dice on the autocrat again. Hey, maybe he'll crash the housing market so they can buy cheap.

Of course, Biden siding America with the country openly asking why they can't nuke a civilian population because there are "no non-combatants in Gaza" doesn't exactly put him with the good guys, either, as awful as Trump is.

The rest of us have a lot of work to do in convincing others that's not the case. We know he's going to destroy the place.  Trump going to prison before the election might be the only thing that saves us.

On the other hand, having said all this...

Let's remember that the NY Times can definitely be wrong on this election.

And we've been down before a year out.

The larger point is we have an entire year. Let's not waste it.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

The European Union is rapidly running out of patience with Kyiv and is looking for the exits out of Ukraine, especially with the Israel-Hamas conflict going volcanic. 
U.S. and European officials have begun quietly talking to the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail to end the war, according to one current senior U.S. official and one former senior U.S. official familiar with the discussions.

The conversations have included very broad outlines of what Ukraine might need to give up to reach a deal, the officials said. Some of the talks, which officials described as delicate, took place last month during a meeting of representatives from more than 50 nations supporting Ukraine, including NATO members, known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the officials said.

The discussions are an acknowledgment of the dynamics militarily on the ground in Ukraine and politically in the U.S. and Europe, officials said.

They began amid concerns among U.S. and European officials that the war has reached a stalemate and about the ability to continue providing aid to Ukraine, officials said. Biden administration officials also are worried that Ukraine is running out of forces, while Russia has a seemingly endless supply, officials said. Ukraine is also struggling with recruiting and has recently seen public protests about some of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s open-ended conscription requirements.

And there is unease in the U.S. government with how much less public attention the war in Ukraine has garnered since the Israel-Hamas war began nearly a month ago, the officials said. Officials fear that shift could make securing additional aid for Kyiv more difficult.

Some U.S. military officials have privately begun using the term “stalemate” to describe the current battle in Ukraine, with some saying it may come down to which side can maintain a military force the longest. Neither side is making large strides on the battlefield, which some U.S. officials now describe as a war of inches. Officials also have privately said Ukraine likely only has until the end of the year or shortly thereafter before more urgent discussions about peace negotiations should begin. U.S. officials have shared their views on such a timeline with European allies, officials said.

“Any decisions about negotiations are up to Ukraine,” Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in a statement. “We are focused on continuing to stand strongly in support of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence against Russian aggression.”

An administration official also noted that the U.S. has participated with Ukraine in discussions of its peace summit framework but said the White House “is not aware of any other conversations with Ukraine about negotiations at the moment.”
President Joe Biden has been intensely focused on Ukraine’s depleting military forces, according to two people familiar with the matter.

"Manpower is at the top of the administration’s concerns right now,” one said. The U.S. and its allies can provide Ukraine with weaponry, this person said, “but if they don’t have competent forces to use them it doesn’t do a lot of good”
With Republicans in the US continuing to do Russia's bidding and cutting off Kyiv from additional military aid, the writing is on the wall at this point.  Heavy casualties have been inflicted on Ukraine and Russia, but Russia has more manpower and always did. The advantage in military tech that Ukraine had matters less and less now.

But let's be honest: any peace negotiations will result in the end of Ukraine. The Zelenskyy government will be removed, jailed, and probably executed, a satrap will be installed and a defacto Russian government will run the place, and frankly there's zero reason to trust Putin won't take the rest of the country -- or additional former Soviet republics -- in the years ahead.

The defense of Ukraine may be politically inconvenient, but we know what happens if they surrender: the end of the country, period.

Sunday Long Read: The School Shooting Survivor's Club

Our Sunday Long Read this week finds that we've had so many school shootings in America that there's now a dedicated support network for school principals to deal with the pain and death of what is becoming more and more an annual sacrifice ritual across the country to the Second Amendment.

IT WAS A cold, breezy morning in April 2019 when the club gathered for the first time. None of those present had asked to be part of this club, but they were the ones who answered its call, 12 men and five women, mostly strangers then.

They collected their coffees, took seats around the table in the conference room in Reston, Virginia, and looked at one another under the fluorescent lights.

Greg Johnson, the principal of a small Ohio high school called West Liberty-Salem, felt awkward. They all knew what they had in common. But do you ask about the awful thing right away, or wait?

Frank DeAngelis felt moved. Over the years, and with dread, the former principal of Columbine High School in Colorado had watched the ranks of his fellowship grow, had in fact called new members to tell them they’d joined what he dubbed the club where no one wants to join. Now here they were, so many in one room.

Ty Thompson felt guarded. A year after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, lawsuits and investigations loomed. He wasn’t sure what he could and couldn’t say.

One by one, the principals shared. When Johnson confessed that more than two years after the shooting at West Liberty-Salem he still wrestled with doubts about his ability to support his students and staff, he was relieved to see heads nodding. Thompson was struck by how immediately these strangers felt safe with one another, how some group members unloaded like it was therapy. They talked about the loss of young lives that haunted them, the guilt they felt as survivors, and how they questioned what they could have done differently. Someone asked: What are you doing for self-care? Silence. Then Johnson spoke up: “Who has time for self-care?” More heads nodded.

Andy McGill, Johnson’s assistant principal at West Liberty-Salem, remained quiet. As he listened to DeAngelis talk about Columbine and Thompson talk about Marjory Stoneman Douglas, what happened at his school began to seem trivial. No one had died during their shooting, thankfully. What was he doing in this room?

That night, McGill went to the hotel bar with a group that included DeAngelis. There, a former assistant principal from New York named Michael Bennett, who was shot confronting a gunman in 2004, began to express what McGill had been feeling—that there had been no fatalities at his school’s shooting and his presence here was a mistake. But DeAngelis cut him off with what would become one of the club’s party lines: You don’t compare tragedies. Trauma is trauma. At the next day’s meeting, McGill felt better. DeAngelis was right. The most important thing they could do was help others.

The club emerged from that 2019 meeting as the Principal Recovery Network (PRN), a support group for principals whose schools have experienced gun violence. Grimly, since the PRN was founded, both its workload and membership have grown—46 shootings occurred at K–12 schools in 2022, more than in any year since Columbine, according to Washington Post data. The PRN today is composed of 21 current and former leaders from schools including Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut; Marjory Stoneman Douglas; and Columbine. When gun violence strikes, the PRN reaches out to the principal, offering emotional support and advice on everything from how to reopen a school to how to commemorate the one-year mark. In 2022, the group released a handbook of its best practices: The NASSP Principal Recovery Network Guide to Recovery. But the most valuable resource the PRN offers may be its simplest: the opportunity to connect with others who have been through the same thing.

The principals realized at that first meeting in 2019 that while their shootings were different, many of their experiences were similar. As they led their communities forward, they faced common challenges, which unfolded in a similar sequence. Today, as the PRN, they offer their experiences as a guide, in hopes they might help others find smoother passage through. On the other side of the hardship, the principals promise, there can be healing.

But the story must begin with the horror. Because the horror, unfortunately, is how you join the club
More principals will join this club every month. More kids will join the ranks of those killed in these shootings. And more and more of us are throwing up our hands and accepting that this is how it has to be, and that the only solution is more and more death.

It doesn't have to be, but that starts with no electing the people who want to arm everyone and watch us shoot each other.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Last Call For The GOP Mask Slips Again...

 ..and Republicans finally admit that their "cure" for the antisemitism wave that they started is increased Islamophobia and collective punishment of Palestinians in the US.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) introduced a bill Thursday that could ban Palestinians from entering the U.S. and possibly expel those who are already here.

Zinke, who served as secretary of the Interior Department under former President Trump, introduced legislation called the Safeguarding Americans from Extremism Act.

The legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt granting visas, asylum and refuge for people who have a Palestinian Authority-issued passport. The bill would revoke the entrance or visa for individuals who came to the U.S. after Oct. 1.

“This legislation keeps America safe,” Zinke said. “I don’t trust the Biden Administration any more than I do the Palestinian Authority to screen who is allowed to come into the United States. This is the most anti-Hamas immigration legislation I have seen and it’s well deserved. Given the circumstances, the threats to our immigration system and the history of terrorists abusing refugee, asylum and visa processes all over the world, the requirements in this bill are necessary to keep Americans safe. This bill does exactly that.”

Zinke’s bill would bar DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from granting Temporary Protected Status to people with the passport, along with refugee status and asylum. It would direct DHS to work with Customs Enforcement and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to “identify” and remove individuals “without lawful status, including newly revoked status.”

The legislation comes after GOP lawmakers issued a letter earlier in October to Mayorkas and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to revoke and deport students on temporary student visas who “have expressed support for Hamas” in the aftermath of the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel that left more than 1,400 people dead.

Zinke’s bill has 10 co-sponsors — Reps. Andy Harris (R-Md.), Aaron Bean (R-Fla.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Barry Moore (R-Ala.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).


Of course, that's nothing compared to all the Republicans running for the White House, who all want to deport millions already in the country no matter where they are from, including Nikki Haley

OK, of the six to seven million that have come over since Biden did this — this is going to sound harsh — but you send them back. And the reason you send them back, the reason you send them back is because, my parents, they came here legally. They put in the time, they put in the price. I take care of my parents. They live with us. They’re 87 and 89. There’s not a time I’ve had dinner with my mom when she doesn’t say, ‘Are those people still crossing the border?’ And the reason is, they are offended by what’s happening on the border. And when you allow those six or seven million to come, to all those people who’ve done it the right way, you’re letting them jump the line.
So yeah, national immigration raids, mass deportations, families ripped apart. You may not like Biden. You should see the other guys, though...

Trump Cards, Con't

If the oral arguments in last week's Minnesota's Supreme Court case involving removing Donald Trump from the ballot in the state over January 6th are any indication, there's little chance he'll be kept off the ballot in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Minnesota Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical Thursday that states have the authority to block former President Donald Trump from the ballot, with some suggesting that Congress is best positioned to decide whether his role in the 2021 U.S. Capitol attack should prevent him from running.

Justices sharply questioned an attorney representing Minnesota voters who had sued to keep Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, off the state ballot under the rarely used “insurrection” clause of the U.S. Constitution. Citing Congress’ role in certifying presidential electors and its ability to impeach, several justices said it seemed that questions of eligibility should be settled there.

“And those all seem to suggest there is a fundamental role for Congress to play and not the states because of that,” Chief Justice Natalie E. Hudson said. “It’s that interrelation that I think is troubling, that suggests that this is a national matter for Congress to decide.”

The oral arguments before the state Supreme Court were unfolding during an unprecedented week, as courts in two states were debating questions that even the nation’s highest court has never settled — the meaning of the insurrection clause in the Civil War-era 14th Amendment and whether states are even allowed to decide the matter. At stake is whether Trump will be allowed on the ballot in states where lawsuits are challenging his eligibility.

The Minnesota lawsuit and another in Colorado, where a similar hearing is playing out, are among several filed around the country to bar Trump from state ballots in 2024 over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, which was intended to halt Congress’ certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 win. The Colorado and Minnesota cases are furthest along, putting one or both on an expected path to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Minnesota’s went directly to the state Supreme Court, where five of the seven justices heard the arguments on Thursday after two recused themselves. The justices consistently questioned whether it was appropriate for states to determine a candidate’s eligibility to run for president. Hudson also said she was concerned about the possibility “for just chaos” if multiple states decided the issue differently.

She said even if the court had the authority to keep Trump off the ballot, “Should we is the question that concerns me the most.”

The former president is dominating the Republican presidential primary as voting in the first caucus and primary states rapidly approaches.

An attorney representing Trump, Nicholas Nelson, said states’ roles in determining candidates’ eligibility for president was limited to what he called “basic processing requirements,” such as determining whether they meet the age requirement.

He addressed the chief justice’s concern about the potential for chaos that could result from states deciding differently on the issue.

“Petitioners would like this to be a one-off case, but we are a 50-state democracy,” he said.

The question of whether Trump should be barred from the ballot under the insurrection section of the 14th Amendment should not even be before the court, he said, calling it a political question.

“There’s nothing for the courts to decide about the eligibility question,” Nelson told the justices.

Trump’s team asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
I don't expect the case to be dismissed, but I don't expect Trump to lose here, either (or in Colorado for that matter.)
No, this question is headed for SCOTUS as soon as it's able, and they will rule in favor of keeping Trump on the ballot, if not a unanimous vote.  This is not quite a colossal waste of time, but it's close.

Even if Trump is convicted before the election somehow, that won't change a thing as far as eligibility for the Oval Office. Not with this SCOTUS.

We'll see what happens, but Trump's almost certainly going to have to be defeated by the voters, and tens of millions of them want him back in charge...for good.
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